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White Plains Budget Hikes Taxes 4.2%, Falls Within State Cap

State sales taxes decreased by $350,000 from last year, according to the 2013-2014 proposed budget for the City of White Plains. Photo Credit: City of White Plains
Michael Genito is the city finance commissioner and budget director. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The average White Plains homeowner would pay $104 more in city taxes, or 4.2 percent more than last year, under the proposed 2013-2014 budget, which the Common Council received at its meeting Monday night.

The 4.2 percent tax rate hike means a homeowner would pay $192.22 per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of $7.75. The median assessed valuation in White Plains is $13,400. The total assessed value is up $2.1 million to $277.7 million. It is the second time in 10 years it increased and creates about $417,000 in revenue. This, according to the city, helped reduce the tax rate from 5 to 4.2 percent.

The $171.8 million proposed budget, officially filed Monday, would increase spending 3.1 percent. It calls for the city to collect a total of $54.1 million in property taxes, which falls within the state-mandated tax cap by about $260,000, Michael Genito, city finance commissioner and budget director, said Monday.

State sales taxes will contribute $45.4 million in revenue, down $350,000 from last year. The city anticipates $22.5 million in parking revenues. This includes $1.1 million it expects to collect from an increase of 25 cents -- from 75 cents to $1 for hourly parking garage fees. The fee hike was proposed earlier this year, but the council tabled it. The council is expected to consider the fee hike before the adoption of the budget.

While the city faced a budget shortfall between $3 million to $4 million, Genito said the proposed budget closed that gap without cutting personnel. However, the city recently went to arbitration with its police and fire unions , which have been working without a contract since 2010. If the state-appointed arbitration panel grants retro-active salary increases, Genito said the city may have to consider cutting personnel to account for the extra costs.

Personnel costs represent $73.2 percent of the budget, or $115.2 million. This year, pension costs increased $1.9 million, or 12 percent, to $17.1 million. Employee benefits, including pensions, social security and health insurance, costs $44.9 million.

“It’s a conservative budget that follows along with the city’s guidelines in terms of fiscal performance goals,” Genito said. “There’s nothing shocking in the budget.”

The council plans to review the budget for the first time at its meeting Monday. It will hold a series of meetings with each department to review expenditures, then hold a public hearing on the budget May 7. It will vote on the budget May 20.

"In developing this budget, I requested that the Budget Director work to maintain city services at the high levels White Plains residents have come to expect while keeping spending down to the greatest extent possible," Mayor Thomas Roach said in a statement Monday night. "I am pleased that the proposed budget does this in a fiscally responsible manner and is below the state's property tax cap despite another round of significant increases in pension costs, without any immediate mandate relief from the state and without borrowing to meet current costs which would merely kick the can down the road."

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